Ugh, why are you walking so slow? Why are you still talking? Why havn’t you done what I asked? How long does it take to get things done around here? Why can’t you do things right? These are just some of the thoughts that go through our mind when we are impatient. Sure, the lady at checkout is moving at a glacial pace and you have somewhere to be, so you have a right to be a little tense.
Sometimes impatience is a little more serious. Why won’t my business take off? – I should give up! Why hasn’t she called? – She’s probably cheating on me. I can’t afford that car yet, but I deserve it and I work so hard. – I’m just going to buy it! Why isn’t this report ready? – I’d better tell my co-worker what’s what!
Does any of this sound familiar? At some point or another, we are ALL impatient. It’s OK to feel impatience, but losing control of how we manage impatience can lead to making wrong or rash decisions, and it can hurt not only us, but those around us. It can interfere with healthy work relationships and impede a successful career. Specifically, it can lead to impulsivity, depression, anxiety/stress, and even giving up on important aspects of life. Thus, we need to spend time making patience a habit.
How can we cope with or deal with impatience? The first step is awareness.
- Assess situations and triggers that lead to impatience. For example, are you more impatient with certain people, during particular activities, or in certain places?
- Assess the degree of impairment caused by your impatience. For example, if certain people at work are triggers, do some team members avoid you because of your short fuse and bad temper? How does it affect your relationships with signifiant others and friends?
- Determine how impatience affects your emotional functioning. Does it lead to anger, sadness, anxiety, or guilt?
- Assess the thoughts associated with your impatience. Is your belief that others are incompetent? That you deserve the highest of standards?
After you develop a deep awareness of where your impatience stems from, make a plan for change and commit to it. Some strategies for change include:
- Breathing! Take deep, slow breaths, and count to 10. This will slow your heart rate and relax your body. It also distances you emotionally from the situation. If you’re extremely impatient, repeat this process several times.
- Scanning your body. Impatience can cause your muscles to tense. Take deep breaths and focus on scanning and relaxing your muscles, from your toes up to the top of your head.
- Changing your thoughts around the source of your impatience. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can work to help you think more flexibly and act in more adaptive ways.
- Using coping statements or mantras that promote patience and a sense of calm. This includes mantras like “breathe,” “I can stand this,” “patience,” “this too shall pass.”
- Accepting imperfection. Some things are just out of your control. Nobody’s perfect, including yourself. Remind yourself that your impatience rarely gets others to move faster or do better.
- Being mindful. It can help you reduce stress and manage negative feelings of anxiety and impulsivity associated with impatience.
- Fueling yourself. Physical factors can lead to impatience, such as hunger (you know, feeling hangry), dehydration, or fatigue. Pay attention to your body; a simple remedy might be a snack and a glass of water!
Some people become impatient because of underlying issues such as anger, perfectionism, and depression/anxiety. If you’d like help targeting these core causes with treatments such as CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or Anger Management, contact Gramercy for more information.